Hattiesburg, MISS– Today she’s back to her grandeur. It’s hard to believe that the Ogletree Alumni House was ripped open just 19 months ago.
Looking at the picture above, it is hard to fathom that on the morning of February 11, 2013, the Ogletree House was gaping open, rain and wind rushing through the halls after an EF4 tornado decimated the front of the Southern Miss campus and most of Hattiesburg.
It took 19 months, but the Ogletree House is back up and fully functional. The ribbon-cutting today was to mark the progress of the restoration efforts, but the strength of Southern Miss quickly became the top topic.
“This event demonstrates the resilience of the Southern Miss spirit,” says USM President Dr. Rodney Bennett. Dr. Bennett was only the President for three days before the tornado touched down on the campus.
“We do not lose hope at Southern Miss,” says Dr. Bennett.
Governor Phil Bryant spoke of his time at Southern Miss, and how the tornado damage on campus felt personal.
“Everything I love started at Southern Miss. I met my wife at Southern Miss,” says Governor Bryant, “when we were engaged, we would walk these grounds and dream of our children going here. Southern Miss is family.”
Governor Bryant says that the re-opening of the Ogletree House, as well as the recovery accomplishments all along campus, display that Southern Miss will still be strong.
“We have rose up on Eagle’s wings, says Bryant, “and we will soar.”
Marsh Auditorium and The Mannoni Performing Arts Center were also damaged. They have reopened as well. The Jazz Lab building on Hardy Street was a complete loss, but that facility is located within the Performing Arts Center now.